Winning a second consecutive match since announcing the US Open would be the last tournament of his career, 2003 champion Andy Roddick postponed his retirement a little longer by getting past 59th-ranked Fabio Fognini of Italy 7-5, 7-6 (1), 4-6, 6-4 in the third round on Sunday.
What comes next could really be memorable. In the fourth round on Tuesday, the last US man to win a Grand Slam title will face 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, who defeated Leonardo Mayer 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (9) in an all-Argentine match that featured one particularly noteworthy point. In the tiebreaker, Mayer smacked a backhand that somehow ricocheted off the top of a net post and landed in the court — but Del Potro was unfazed, got the ball back and wound up winning the point.
Djokovic, the defending champion, beat No. 31 Julien Benneteau in straight sets and will meet No. 18 Stanislas Wawrinka for a quarter-final berth.
Also advancing: No. 4 David Ferrer, who got past two-time major champion Lleyton Hewitt 7-6 (9), 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 and now meets No. 13 Richard Gasquet, who eliminated Steve Johnson 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-3; and No. 19 Philipp Kohlschreiber, who set up a fourth-round encounter against No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic by beating No. 9 John Isner 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a match that ended at 2:26am yesterday, equaling the tournament record for latest finish.
In women’s action, Maria Sharapova got back to the US Open quarter-finals for the first time since winning the 2006 title, taking control of a back-and-forth match after a 75-minute rain delay and beating No. 19 Nadia Petrova 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 on Sunday night.
Sharapova will play No. 11 Marion Bartoli, the 2007 Wimbledon runner-up, who came back to defeat last year’s Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 1-6, 6-2, 6-0.
Top-seeded Victoria Azarenka beat 73rd-ranked Anna Tatishvili 6-2, 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows for the first time. Azarenka has dropped only 10 games through four matches heading into a showdown against defending champion Sam Stosur, a 6-4, 6-4 winner over 18-year-old Laura Robson of Britain, whose breakthrough run included wins against past major champions Kim Clijsters and Li Na.
Robson beat Clijsters in the second round on Wednesday, sending the 29-year-old Belgian into retirement.
Roddick and Fognini provided their own brand of entertainment, even though Roddick is not at his best because of an aching right shoulder. A couple of months ago, Roddick lowered the tension in his racket strings so he could, he explained while pointing to that shoulder, “get a little sling action in it and help the old Hamburger Helper here.”
Asked how that key part of his body feels, Roddick said: “It’s not great, but, you know, it’s good enough. I’ve got, max, a week of tennis left, so it’s good enough for that.”